Columbia University

faculty/student interaction dinnerS


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the criteria for eligibility in this program?

The first of the criteria for eligibility for the program is that the faculty member teaching the course must have a full-time appointment in the Arts and Sciences at the rank of Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, or Lecturer in Language.  If the faculty member holds that appointment, then they can request a meal; the class will qualify as long as the majority of students (15 maximum) attending the dinner are undergraduates.

Do I order from the restaurant myself, and pay for it, and bring you the bill together with a list of names of participating students, or what?

No.  You need to pick a date that you and most of your students are available to have the meal.

There are forms that need to be filled out and submitted to Qamar Said in 105 Low Library.  Once we receive the form (must be five days in advance of desired date), we make the reservations at Faculty House or place the orders at one of the participating restaurants.  We then create a voucher for payment that must be picked up by the faculty member (or student) on the day before the scheduled dinner from 105 Low Library and the faculty member must present it to the delivery person upon receipt of food.  VP Arts and Sciences has accounts with each restaurant and we use a voucher payment system.  Faculty should not have to pay cash or credit.

Fill out the forms completely and fax or email them back to Qamar Said or Audrey Rosenblatt. The event can be either lunch or dinner. If you plan to use Faculty House you will not need a menu from one of the program's restaurants in order to choose the menu. If you do not want to use Faculty House, there are several restaurants from which we will order food for delivery to either your apartment or another campus location that you secure.

Qamar will send you an email to let you know that she is processing your FSID request.  Within 2-3 days you should receive another email from Qamar Said either requesting additional information, confirming, or denying your FSID request(s).

The confirmation email will give you specific instructions on how to obtain your voucher for payment of your FSID.  The voucher covers the cost of food plus 15% tip. Money transactions should not take place between faculty and staff from our participating restaurants.

The denying email will explain why we were unable to approve your FSID request(s).

Do I need to make a reservation at the Faculty House?

No, our office makes the reservations.  Faculty House generally will not consider it to be part of our FSID program unless the arrangements are made by this office so that there is no confusion as to whether or not this is an Arts and Sciences sponsored event.

Why can’t the FSID take place at a restaurant?

The Faculty/Student Interaction Dinner Program does not pay for meals at any restaurant location other than the Faculty House. If Faculty House is not chosen, a meal can be ordered by us from one of our other participating vendors and delivered to either a faculty member's residence or an on-campus location secured by the faculty member.

The University does not pay for meals that are held at restaurants off campus. There are catering restrictions involved, so the food must either be delivered to an on-campus site, at a Faculty member's home or take place at Faculty House (lunch only).

Can I take my Teaching Assistant(s)?


What does the Chosen Restaurant voucher cover?

The voucher covers payment for the food within your FSID budget that is based upon your paperwork and 15% tip. Because this is a program aimed at undergraduates, no charges for alcoholic beverages will be covered by the vouchers. Any excess costs will be the responsibility of the faculty member to cover.

What does the Faculty House voucher cover?

The voucher covers payment only for the number that we have reserved based upon your paperwork and 15% tip. Because this is a program aimed at undergraduates, no charges for alcoholic beverages will be covered by the vouchers. Any excess costs will be the responsibility of the faculty member to cover; the cashier will ask for a credit card or cash to cover payment.

Can alcohol be consumed during the dinner?

This program is geared toward undergraduates, the majority of whom are not of legal drinking age; therefore we cannot cover charges for alcoholic beverages.

How will I know if my Faculty House reservations are confirmed?

We will confirm with you when the reservations at Faculty House are confirmed to us via email. 

Can I host the meal during class time (my students are busy at night)?

Eating during the regular class does not fit in with the intent of our Faculty/Student Interaction Dinner program. The meal really should be outside of the regular classroom setting in order for there to be conversation--not teaching. The idea is to make students comfortable with faculty and to foster informal communication.
Some faculty members have hosted meals in their homes during the weekend.

Can I take my spouse and child to Faculty House?

Our program provides funding for the faculty member and students only. If faculty wishes to bring their spouse and child, they should cover the cost.  We would like to be more accommodating, but our financial resources simply don't permit us to include family members in the meals.

Can I purchase food and be reimbursed?

Yes. You will still have to submit the forms with the names and affiliations of the students so that we have it for our files. Please remember that the cap on students is 15 and the majority of students must be undergraduates.

After the meal, you should submit the receipts, as well as a signed travel and business expense report to Qamar and we will process the reimbursement.

How do I know what my budget is?

The budget is calculated as the total number of students multiplied by 18 ($18.00). The budget is for food.  There are no taxes.  We include an additional 15% for tip that our office covers.

Can I be reimbursed if I arrange and take my students to a non-participating restaurant?

No. The Faculty House is the only restaurant where you can take your class. The other restaurants on the program are for delivery only to a location of your choosing.  Most faculty will have the dinners in their homes or in a lounge within the department. Moreover, our program does not include or cover meals that are not arranged by our office, using one of our participating establishments. We would have to make the arrangements. We have a direct billing arrangement with our restaurants.

We do not reimburse faculty members for meals they have paid for outside of the program’s parameters.

Why can’t I take more than 15 students at one time?

The purpose of our FSID program is to foster informal communication between students and faculty through a meal in a social setting so that students feel comfortable approaching faculty members during the semester. We would fund a meal for approximately 15 students maximum; if a class is larger, we would ask that you break the class into smaller groups to get to that size. For a class with more than 15 students, we would fund at least two (2) meals (approximately 1/2 the class at a time), with the idea being that each student gets to eat at one of those meals.

When does the Faculty/Student Dinner Program (FSID) program begin?

The Faculty/Student Dinner Program does not begin until the third week of classes.

How is the deadline determined?

Due to the parameters set up by the donation that established this program, meals cannot be held during the final week of classes, the reading period, or finals week. The purpose of the program is to foster informal communication between undergraduate students and full-time faculty in the Arts and Sciences. This is the reason that meals are to be held during the semester rather than at the end. The program is not set up to fund what are essentially end of semester parties or rewards for good class performance.

Can I host an FSID during the last week of class?

We cannot schedule dinners during the last week of classes or beyond. The purpose of the program is to foster informal communication so that undergraduates feel comfortable approaching their instructors during the semester.

Why can’t I host an FSID during the last week of class?

The parameters of the Faculty/Student Interaction Dinner program allow that events cannot be held during the last week of classes nor during the reading or finals period. The program was established by a gift. Its purpose is to enable faculty and students to interact on a more intimate basis outside of the classroom, during the semester, as a way to personalize and enlarge the faculty-student relationship within the context of a given class. Holding a dinner at the end of the course does not support the purpose for which the program was developed. Because of these program requirements we must hold to the deadline date.

Could I have a second dinner with the same class at a later date before the deadline?

The program is limited to one dinner per semester for the class--we only schedule multiple dinners for the class if it is necessary to break it up because of the size. Even in that case students should attend only one meal for that class.

Do I have to go to the restaurant to pick up the food?

You do not have to go and pick it up. You would have to arrange for an on-campus location and let us know what that is, or let us know that you want the food delivered to your residence.

I am a Barnard faculty member with Columbia College students, can I participate?

Our program is restricted to full-time faculty in the Arts and Sciences so a Barnard faculty member would not be eligible to participate.

Can lecturers participate in the FSID Program?

The only lecturers that can participate in the FSID Program are Lecturers in the Languages.

My students are from different colleges at the university, can I participate?

The majority of the attendees at the dinner must be undergraduates. It does not matter if they are from Columbia College, General Studies, SEAS, or Barnard, as long as the majority are not graduate students.

I have a 6000-level class that contains a mixture of graduate and undergraduate students. May I host a dinner?

As long as the majority of the group is undergraduate then you can host a dinner for this class. Please remember that the cap on students is 15.

My class has voted to have their dinner on a Saturday. Is that possible at Faculty House?

Faculty House is not open on the weekend so you wouldn’t be able to have the dinner there.  In addition, Faculty House no longer offers dinner reservations.  Their fourth floor restaurant is only open for private functions for dinner.

I am teaching a language and want my students to experience the real language in that language’s environment.  Do I qualify to participate?

We understand the value of immersing students in a particular language or culture, but that is not the purpose of the FSID program. Our program is funded to foster informal communication between undergraduate students and Arts and Sciences faculty.   

Can I add a new restaurant (could my neighborhood standby be included)?

Once the semester starts we cannot add new restaurants mid-semester, so the ones on the list are the ones to stick to.  If you provide us with contact information we will contact the restaurant and see if they would be interested in participating in our program starting next semester. 

In addition, the restaurant would have to be willing to deliver the meal to your apartment or to an on campus location.

Would it be possible to combine my class outing with my undergraduate seminar with the Faculty/Student Interaction program?

The parameters of the program restrict us to these meals taking place at a faculty member's residence or at an on-campus location. The only restaurant at which meals can take place is Faculty House. You wouldn't be able to combine it with the faculty student interaction program. We do not have funding to cover meals that take place in any other context, such as a seminar series, class field trip, etc.

I don’t know the school affiliation and class year of my students. Do I really need to provide this information?

In order to stay within the guidelines of this program we do track student status. Therefore, we do need accurate information on the students scheduled to attend each dinner.

If it has to be held at an on-campus site, where would you suggest having it (and how would I arrange securing the location)?

As a suggestion for an on-campus site location, you should check with your academic departmental administrator and see if a faculty and/or student lounge in your department is available (in order to host the dinner on campus).

Is it possible to organize a breakfast or lunch instead of a dinner?

It is possible to organize a breakfast, but you would only be able to order from Milano Market (they are the only participating restaurant that has breakfast foods like bagels and muffins, etc.)  You most certainly can organize a lunch (all of the participating restaurants serve lunch).

Do you accommodate dietary restrictions?

Yes.  Faculty House offers halal, kosher and vegetarian food.  These requests must be placed in advance.  If you select a participating restaurant other than Faculty House, we can only accommodate kosher food. Unfortunately, at the present time we cannot accommodate halal food unless the FSID takes place at Faculty House.

I am a retired faculty member, but I am teaching a course, can I participate?

If the faculty member is teaching a class (in the Core, for example), then you would be eligible.

I’m a student trying to organize a faculty/student interaction in context of recent issues in the world.  Can I participate in the FSID Program?

Our dinners are organized based on requests from faculty, not students, and they are based on courses, not on issues.